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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Sunday, April 02, 2006

US nuclear first strike?

I hadn't seen this article in Foreign Affairs magazine(the CFR publication) which makes a case that the current state of US nuclear primacy relative to Russia and China makes a nuclear first strike attack a reasonable option.

It's a little long, but I think it's justified. The three points that caught my eye were the modeling of a US first strike which completely incapacitates Russian nuclear response, the discussion of the bunker buster nukes which are not really for rogue states but for hardened missile silos, and the idea that since missile defense is only effective(their decription) against a few warheads, its only use would be in a first strike attack.

If it's a topic of interest, it's worth a read. It reads like the idealistic neocon ravings about the middle east, but there are obviously people pushing these ideas.


  • Pre emptive strikes are illegal under international law, you can't attack someone because you think they want to attack you. It is a very dangerous policy for the US to have, because we might get someone truly evil in power, say like Dick Cheney, who would strike at anyone that serves his own agenda.

    By Blogger Lew Scannon, at 7:59 AM  

  • Technically, "preemptive war" is a grey zone in international law, mainly frowned on but not outright banned, BUT...

    Despite what they call it, the Bush administration is actually practicing "preventive war" which is black letter illegal under a number of mechanisms, the UN charter, the Nuremberg rulings.

    The difference being that preemptive war would've been the Saudis attacking Iraq's troops as they massed on the border in the 91 gulf war. Saddam hadn't crossed the line, but there were some indications of that intention.

    Whereas, preventive war would be more similar to the US attacking Iran right now, a country who has made a few threats(mostly rhetoric really), but has taken no action of any kind.

    And your main point is dead on, but I would broaden it. The whole point of a weak presidency as was envisioned by our constitutional founders was to prevent the availability of power to a poor executive, be it war, NSA spying, renditions, planting propaganda, whatever.

    Good comment. Made me think.


    By Blogger mikevotes, at 8:32 AM  

  • It reads like the idealistic neocon ravings about the middle east, but there are obviously people pushing these ideas.

    As in the 1960's when the doctrine was first being debated...nothing new under the sun.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:29 PM  

  • I agree, but I do see the point in the article that the shift in primacy does require a reanalysis of US nuclear policy. Cause there has been a shift with the decline of the Soviets, but I don't think Dr. Strangelove and Curtis Lemay are the answer.

    Also, CFR is generally an internationalist/globalist supporter in the vein of Clinton's global policies. I found it surprising that they would publish such a piece.


    By Blogger mikevotes, at 4:07 PM  

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